If you have Asthma, there’s one thing you can be sure of – you’re definitely not alone. Statistics compiled by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology show nearly 34.1 million Americans are diagnosed with Asthma by an allergist or other health professional during their lifetime and more than 11 million Americans suffer an Asthma attack each year. Unfortunately, many patients are unaware that they have Asthma and may be undiagnosed, making these numbers even higher.
- Dyspnea or difficult breathing
- Chest tightness
- Persistent coughing, more commonly at night. Most commonly cough with mucus or phlegm
During Asthma attack, the patient presents below symptoms:
- Very low blood pressure
- Abnormally rapid breathing
- Wheezing sounds may accompany both inspiration and expiration or expiration alone
Approximately 70 percent of Asthma patients also have allergies. About a third of America’s Asthma sufferers are under 18 years of age and Asthma rates have increased sharply among urban dwellers over the past two decades. It’s the leading cause of absenteeism from school.
Each year in the United States, Asthma is responsible for:
- Upwards of 4,000 deaths
- More than 500,000 hospitalizations
- More than 12 million missed days of school
- More than 10 million missed days of work for adults
- A quarter of all U.S. emergency room visits
- Nearly $20 billion in medical expenses and related direct/indirect costs
An Asthma specialist can appropriately diagnose your Asthma using several tests. The most important is the clinical judgment and experience of the specialist. Testing for Asthma also includes peak flow measurement or using a more detailed measure called pulmonary function testing, lung function testing or spirometry. Another novel diagnostic test used at Allergy & Asthma Specialists of North Florida is measurement of exhaled nitric oxide (eNO). This is a non-invasive measure of airway inflammation. Identifying your triggers by allergy testing is of utmost importance since the majority of all Asthma is caused by allergy.
Once specific allergy triggers are identified, your allergy specialist can help you regain control of your environment by developing a plan to reduce exposure to those triggers. Quick-relief Asthma treatments are designed to stop airway constriction and typically are inhalers, though some come in pill form. Preventative Asthma treatments focus on reducing inflammation of the airways, improving overall lung function and helping to ward off Asthma symptoms and Asthma attacks. Omalizumab (Xolair) is a novel treatment for Asthma which blocks an important mediator of allergic Asthma called IgE and may be used by your allergy specialist if you have severe Asthma to minimize Asthma attacks. Allergy shots (immunotherapy) provide long-term control of allergic triggers and may prevent the development and worsening of Asthma in children.